I’m slowly improving when it comes to navigating through daily life situations in Japan, but getting a haircut is still quite challenging. It’s such a simple task but think about it, there’s a fair bit of specialist vocab and explanation required to get your point across clearly – not exactly basic stuff. Don’t get me wrong, getting a wig-chop back in England was hardly a pain-free experience for me either, having to save up a month of “bloke talk” to use at the barbers, sitting there trying to think of conversation to break the silence while the barber did the same always made for a pretty cringe-worthy 30 minutes.
Enter QB House, my saviour! QB, “Quick Barber” was established almost 20 years ago, they specialise in cheap, quick cuts and the whole experience is very visual and straightforward making it a good place to go for basic Japanese speakers or anyone trying to save cash! A cut will set you back ¥1000 and take a mere ten minutes.
Bookings aren’t accepted, so no fumbling through phone calls, a good start. Outside every store is a traffic light style light, so even from a distance you can see how busy it is inside, red means a 15-minute plus wait, yellow 5-10 mins and green no wait at all. Also outside are some pretty clear instructions, written in both Japanese and English.
Inside, stuff your money into the machine to exchange it for a ticket which you give to the barber later when they’re ready to tidy your mop. Still no human contact yet – we’re doing well!
The seating area usually has a couple of screens running a news and weather loop to keep you entertained while you wait.
When it’s your time, you’ll be called over, seated and the barber will very politely introduce themselves. Considering your allocated time is only ten minutes(longer is ok, you won’t be charged more), they won’t be doing anything too extravagant, so simple instructions seem to be fine, I start with a super basic “Hanbun kudasai” – literally “half please” then confirm as the barber checks the details, back length, around the ears etc. They get to work, you watch a little TV screen and bam, ten minutes later, you’re on your way! If you’re lucky you might even get a free comb
You’ll find QB House around town and in most major stations in Osaka, and across Japan – making it a convenient place to drop by. Check out their full list of stores on their website.